To live in Havana was to be in that part of the country where there is a little more of everything, despite the shortages. It was living in a city that I could brag about despite the regional differences and phobias; the place where everyone wants to move to; the center of entertainment and economic development. But for me, the streets of the capital were just streets and nothing more.
Until the day I met “my other self” and I began to see my life with new eyes. “My other self” took me by the hand and led me around the city as if I was a stranger, and I’m sad to say that I really was.
I had never noticed such beauty. I learned to observe, smell, taste the best and the worst of every corner in Havana. I took in new places, new sights, and new air. I found so much beauty in the Museum of Fine Arts and in the old buildings that still preserve and display pieces of pottery or embellishments of architecture from the colonial or republican periods.
“My other self” showed me a Havana full of memories; of buildings that draw their strength to remain standing from who-knows-where and display their hidden history or well-known reputations: such is the wealth that some even tell stories. The city tells you, just like a grandmother, about the days of splendor, parties, bars, and customs.
In this little spot that is my city, everything is – as we Cubans say – “here, right here”: the bakery and the museum; the store and the cathedral; the market and the artisans.
“My other self” says you never forget the odors that characterize a place. It’s true. When I decided to open up and let my city into my heart, I found everything: chocolate, roses, some not so nice and others indescribable.
Amid such beauty, I discovered why some people are bent on fixing up the city. Perhaps that’s why every troubadour has a song for Havana. It is a pity that I am not a troubadour, and that “my other self” didn’t emerge twenty years ago instead of now when I’m about to leave forever.